A flag of the EU is flying from the wall of the Passage shopping center located in the center of Dnipropetrovsk. Many took its appearance beside the state flag of Ukraine as a harbinger of change and turning point in business community’s political attitudes, influenced by events in Kyiv’s Euromaidan.
It is no secret that Dnipropetrovsk is still tightly controlled by the Party of Regions. Former managers of Rinat Akhmetov’s Kryvy Rih businesses are running this leading region of Ukraine, and all important positions are occupied by people from Donbas. We can only guess how hard local businesses have found living and breathing in recent years. It is no accident that dramatic events in Independence Square in the capital resonated among Dnipropetrovsk businesspeople. “The first swallow” was the broadcast of the opposition-leaning Channel 5 via large plasma screens located on the Passage’s wall, enabling citizens to monitor directly the revolutionary developments in Independence Square while visiting the main square of Dnipropetrovsk. This fact caused a considerable stir in the corridors of power. The story ended with a sudden blackout, wrapping in darkness large commercial facilities owned by partners of the Privat business group. The Passage was affected, too. “It was a terrible outrage,” the shopping center’s director Vladlen Tymoshenko said. “Both main and backup lines lost power. We had to evacuate thousands of people amid utter darkness, and our heating system nearly froze.” Along with other equipment, the screen which broadcast Channel 5 went dark for a few hours, too. Creeping suspicion in the city was that this failure of electricity supply was manmade. “Experts are still investigating the causes of the accident,” statement on the official website of DTEK Dniprooblenergo, the electric utility, reads. One of the owners of the Passage, famous businessman Borys Filatov expressed his outrage on Facebook. Shortly thereafter, a flag of the EU appeared on the shopping center’s wall and the screen started to broadcast... ballet Swan Lake, bringing back memories of the collapse of the August Coup in 1991. Filatov recently announced on Facebook his intention to fund treatment abroad for the youth who lost his hand to grenade explosion during the clashes in Hrushevskoho Street. The businessman claims that, despite his partly Russian ancestry, he feels a real Ukrainian and is a staunch supporter of European integration. Dnipropetrovsk citizens remember how Filatov and his business partner Hennadii Korban actively worked for the first Independence Square protest’s victory back in 2004. Ukraine is living through a revolution again, and regional authorities’ buildings are under attack in Dnipropetrovsk.